What To Do If You Don't Like Your First Job
Take a deep breath and assess your situation.
Everyone wants to find the perfect job. And with all the emphasis on finding a dream job right out of college, it can be disheartening to be a few months into your first job and realize it’s not what you thought it would be. The reality is, you may not like your first job. You may feel stuck and assume the only way to proceed is to quit and never look back. However, it’s perfectly OK and normal if you don’t feel fulfilled in your first job. Before you make any rash decisions, recognize that there are other options and strategies to consider before giving your two weeks notice – here are seven things to do if you don’t like your first job.
1. Identify the problem (and what is and isn’t working)
First things first: take a deep breath and assess your situation. It’s easy to get caught up in how unhappy we are without actually considering what exactly is making us unhappy. So, it’s time to start asking yourself some questions about your day-to-day tasks at work.
Try making a list of all of the reasons you are not particularly happy in your job right now. Afterwards, go through your list and ask yourself if the things you dislike are related to your position, your industry, or your company. For example, if you don’t like how cliquey everyone in your office is or how much they all gossip, your company culture is most likely the dilemma. On the other hand, if you hate compiling reports or taking notes during meetings, then your role is most likely the problem. Then, consider if these issues are things that can be improved. Do you not get along with your boss? Or do you just work too much overtime?
Now, think about what you do enjoy in your position. Maybe you’re working at a company with a great potential for career advancement, or maybe you have some amazing mentors who could help you. After considering what is working, ask yourself if the long-term growth is worth sticking it out for a few more months. This will help clear your head and determine your next steps.
2. Talk to your manager
Once you’ve identified what is making you unhappy in your current position, it’s time to sit down and have a talk with your manager about what’s going on. Keep in mind that you were hired because your company believed you could succeed in your position. Your manager should want you to succeed and want you to be happy, so be upfront with them about what is bothering you. Is your workload too stressful? Are your hours too demanding? Do you feel disrespected by people on your team? Speak up! Remember that your manager cannot help you if they aren’t aware of what’s causing your concerns.
You never know, your manager could be willing to work with you and help brainstorm some solutions that would make a big difference in your satisfaction at work.
3. Continue working hard
When you’re unsatisfied with your current job, it can be easy to get caught up how upset you are. Eventually, this can affect your work ethic and ultimately the work you put into your position. Don’t let that happen! It may seem pointless turning in your best work for a position you don’t like, but the work you put in now could help you land your dream job in the future. Try and take a new perspective when it comes to your role and focus on refining your skills and overcoming different obstacles. After all, this work could be used to help you in your future career path and could boost your self-confidence. Even if you eventually leave your current position, you can do so with great references, new skills, and examples of work to impress potential employers.
4. Network, network, network!
Find a mentor and use them! By building relationships with your peers and people above you, you could grow more comfortable and confident in your current position. Even if this position isn’t ultimately for you, the connections you make now could help you land your next job. Not to mention, networking exposes you to a plethora of roles and industries that could give you a better idea of what your next role should be.
5. Stay positive
It can be hard to keep a positive attitude when your career isn’t what you expected it to be. The last thing you want to do is burn any bridges with previous employers, however. If you keep a positive outlook and maintain a good work ethic, if you choose to leave eventually you can do so on good terms.
6. Give yourself a fair time frame
It’s important to remember when starting a new job that it’s normal to feel uncomfortable at first. Everything is new and you may feel a little clumsy in your position, but that’s expected and part of learning the job. Accelerating in your position will most likely take time, patience, and experience.
Give yourself some time to get to know your job, your team, and your supervisors. Then, create a fair timeline for you to meet these goals. During this time, commit to learning your job, improving, and getting to know the people you work with. By the end of the time frame, consider how much effort you put into advancing and if you feel any better in your current position. If you’re still unhappy, make a plan and consider quitting.
7. If all else fails, consider searching for a new job
After giving other options an honest shot, it might be time to start searching for a new job. Maybe you should stay put for financial reasons while you look elsewhere or maybe it’s best to quit now to make connections in other industries. Do what’s best for you, but keep in mind you should be able to recognize what’s making you unhappy in your current position before you start searching for another. If your reasons are company-related but the role is in line with what you want to do, consider sticking it out until you’ve worked a full year. Future employers will not only appreciate the experience on your resume, but also your dedication to the job you had. If you’re unhappy with your role, however, it may be best to leave sooner rather than later and gain some experience in an industry you're more interested in.
Let’s face it: quitting isn’t always the most viable or financially-responsible decision if you don’t like your first job. Fortunately, there are other options and strategies to consider if you are unhappy in your current position. Try using these tips before leaving your office for good. If you do end up leaving, remember what you learned from this process and go out and find a company that is right for you!
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